Santa Barbara of Samaná, 1869: the imperial gaze.

I am also finding my hard-drive swelling with illustrations which I cannot yet use in publications.  Hopefully, by sharing them here, these historical documents will soon find themselves useful to others.  The picture below, which appeared in the Harper’s Weekly (1869), in the eve of the 1870-71 Annexation Treaty with the U.S., illustrates a couple of lines I wrote in my book’s epilogue:

During the second half of the nineteenth century, Samaná shifted in the world’s imagination from a presqu’île with a useful gulf to a bay with a funky peninsula attached to it. This conceptual turn was the work of the Atlantic print culture (blogosphere) becoming progressively fascinated with the Samaná harbor. Foreigners invoked the term “Samaná Bay” even when they had the peninsula in mind, referring to it as an exceptional harbor that shortsighted Dominicans were ready to trade for temporary debt-relief.

Santa Barbara of Samaná, 1869.

Santa Barbara of Samaná, 1869.

The main purpose of this picture was to sell a particular image of Samaná to the public in the United States.

Notice that the view comes from the hill behind to the little town of Santa Barara of Samaná, and that the little cozy harbor lacks the walking bridge that today connects the islets. Like with any conqueror’s depiction, the purpose is not to highlight the human element, but to bring attention to natural resources. The obvious fertility is to show potential U.S. investors and speculators that their crops would yield good returns.  The little harbor here appears larger than what it really was (since then, it has been prepared for larger ships).  The message was that it would welcome all types of ships.  The people’s houses (or huts) are almost invisible because the fewer the better: more space for new buildings and northern settlers wanting to exploit the region’s natural resources.

Mofongo and Puerto Rico as a Culinary Revelation

DennisRHidalgo:

I somehow knew deep inside that I was eating history, I mean, serious and sophisticated history!

Originally posted on Repeating Islands:

PURTORICO

Ben Vaughn (The Daily Meal) writes that, in his search for the best mofongo, he discovered Puerto Rico as a culinary revelation, for food both traditional and contemporary. He explores restaurants in the wider San Juan area and Cayey—El Jibarito, Old San Juan; Zest Restaurant, San Juan Water Beach Hotel; Mi Casa by José Andrés, Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve; Chicharrón, Placita de Santurce, San Juan; Lechonera Los Pinos, Cayey; Budatai Condado, San Juan; and Budatai in the Condado district of San Juan—learning a great deal about the flavors and textures of the island’s cuisine:

[. . .] In Miami, you have obvious Cuban influences, but also Haitian cuisine, food from Trinidad & Tobago, and all throughout the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico.

During my years living in Miami, I’ve had the opportunity to try them all. Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Puerto Rico and participate in their…

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People who skim online articles are just as cultured as book snobs

DennisRHidalgo:

Here is a challenge: read this short article entirely. Perhaps we can prove the author wrong. Otherwise, we might just become a world populated by people with ADD.

How this should affect the way we teach? Students are happier with shorter readings.

Originally posted on Quartz:

At the end of last year, Slate published its “Year of Outrage“—a series of essays contemplating the endless churn of transient media stories and subsequent outrage.

It also reiterated a long-standing suspicion that the internet has shortened our attention spans and made us more frivolous and foolish. The internet, we fear, is robbing us of deep thought; it’s turning us into facile meme spouters and skimming link clickers.

That’s what Nicholas Carr argued five years ago in his (somewhat ironically) much-memed book The Shallows, and we’ve only become more obsessively superficial since. Social media encourages us to tweet knowledge in 140 character bursts, turning complex tapestries of ideas into easily digested nuggets: lol, u mad Carr?

“Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy,” Carr wrote. “That’s rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages…

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30 Reasons it’s Smart to Hire a History Student

DennisRHidalgo:

Great list

Originally posted on Shaunanagins:

When my co-op advisor asked how my current job relates to my History degree, I didn’t know what to tell her. Not because the job doesn’t relate to my studies–it does. Almost everything does, if you ask me. On the transferable skill side, there is just so, so much.

As I sit at the tail end of my History and Communications double major, resume full of business-friendly internships and experiences, I can’t help but notice how underrated the History half of my education seems to be. It has helped me thrive in so many work worlds–from the public service, to high tech marketing, to education and tourism. It’s time we stopped overlooking the History degree.

Here are 30 reasons why.

  1. History students are experts at tracking trends. They know how people, strategies, and time-stamped statistics work (or don’t work).
  2.  …and, yes, they know how to communicate that information back.

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CALACS 2015—Deadline Extended

DennisRHidalgo:

Not a bad place for a conference!

Originally posted on Repeating Islands:

615x200-ehow-images-a06-jm-gn-pan-americanism_-800x800 The 34th CALACS Congress, organized by the Canadian Association of Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CALACS), the School of Social Sciences at the University of Costa Rica, and the Latin American Social Sciences Institute (FLACSO), will take place at will take place at the University of Costa Rica,San Jose, Costa Rica, from July 8 to 10, 2015. The theme this year is Critical Pan-Americanisms: Solidarity, Resistance, Territories. The submissions deadline has been extended to April 30, 2015.

Description: Pan-Americanism has a long and complicated history.  As concepts, ideas, discourses, possibilities, and dreams, Pan-America and Pan-Americanism appear and vanish, are defined and re-defined, and are accepted and rejected by different actors in different historical moments. South of the Río Grande, Pan-America and Pan-Americanism formed part of Símon Bolívar’s thought.  Later, between 1880 and 1890, the terms Pan-America and Pan-Americanism appeared in the United States, extending the territory northwards.  Henceforth, Pan-Americanism became part of…

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HISTORIANS NOW: THE FIERY TRIAL BY ERIC FONER

DennisRHidalgo:

The people at the Gilder Lehrman Institute are doing wonderful things! I wish I could be closer. Foner’s work cannot be more timely.

Originally posted on El Imperio de Calibán:

HISTORIANS NOW: THE FIERY TRIAL BY ERIC FONER

Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

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A Tale of Two Governors

No more flowery Puerto Rican past.

The Privilege of Not Caring

DennisRHidalgo:

Pretty good post about the supposed “Come back” of a White Disney fan: It’s also about positioning white as default, which is what happens when you look at the Disney princess line-up.”

Originally posted on Cait Spivey:

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past year educating myself about privilege, especially my own privilege as a white cis woman. There’s still a lot I need to do to branch out and keep learning, but I feel like I do an alright job of checking my privilege.

I’m not often presented with opportunities to discuss privilege with other white people, so when such situations do arise I try to take advantage of them. I’d be lying if I said it turns out well most or even some of the time. It’s a rare person who accepts challenge gracefully. I am certainly not one of those people myself–I usually need an hour or two, sometimes longer, before I’m able to admit that the other person was right.

To the story. On Facebook the other day, an acquaintance shared a link to this image:

Click to view full size Click to view full size

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Choices’s Course on the Haitian Revolution

The Haitian Revolution: The Choices Program., a course.Possibly some of you knew of this resource already. I have seen it before too, but today I stopped and looked at it more carefully after browsing tens of pages of documents purporting to summarize, sketch or introduce students to the topic of the Haitian Revolution.  I found it useful.

It was published five years ago under the auspices of the Choice Program and Brown University.  It is copyrighted, and the document is protected indeed.  Email the company if you plan to use it in the classroom.

It is formatted with lesson plans similar to those used in high School. So, I suppose it could be used there too.  But I looked at it with eyes for using it in an undergraduate course. In addition to the student text, it has the instructor’s guidebook, which comes with all sort of teaching aids: lists of terms, timelines, quizzes, exams, etc.

Of the online resources I have seen claiming to help you teach the history of the Haitian Revolution (product of the Haitian Turn, perhaps), this one stands out (while in another formats: “The Other Revolution” and Alyssa G. Sepinwall’s Introduction are also useful).

The booklet credits the following individuals:

Anthony Bogues. Harmon Family Professor, Professor of Africana Studies and Political Science, Brown University

Donald Cosentino, Professor of Culture and Performance, University of California, Los Angeles

Alex Dupuy, Class of 1958 Distinguished Professor of Sociology, Wesleyan University

Sharon Larson, Adjunct Assistant Professor of French, Providence College

Katherine Smith, University of California, Los Angeles

Patrick Sylvain, Visiting Lecturer in Latin American Studies, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies., Brown University

Special thanks to Kana Shen, Brown University ’10, for her assistance in developing and writing this unit.

Cover image and maps by Alexander Sayer Gard-Murray. A section of the cover image is from the painting “Dessalines Ripping the White from the Flag” by Madsen Monpremier. Photograph by Denis Nervig, Fowler Museum at UCLA.

The Haitian Revolution is part of a continuing series on international public policy issues. New units are published each academic year and all units are updated regularly.

Puerto Ricans Need to Stop Living Like Kings and Learn to Work in Sweatshops

DennisRHidalgo:

An urgent read about Puerto Rico’s maladies and Bloomberg’s problematic article. It is short and necessary.

Originally posted on In cOHERENT Thoughts:

An article in BloombergView, condescendingly entitled Helping Puerto Rico Prosper, pretends to offer a solution to the island’s economic maladies. Of course it has gone viral. The article presents a laundry list of what is ailing Puerto Rico while slowly but surely making a nuanced case for right wing economics. Here is the laundry list.

• Since 2006, Puerto Rico’s economy has contracted every year but one.

• Its unemployment rate of 13.7 percent is double that of the U.S. mainland.

• Its poverty rate is twice that of Mississippi.

• Puerto Rico’s population and tax base have aged and shrunk.

• Since 2000, public debt has risen from 60 percent of gross domestic product to more than 100 percent.

• Much of that has been racked up by the island’s inefficient public-sector corporations.

After presenting these well-known facts, the article argues for deregulation- of the worse kind. It…

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Defiant Haiti: Free-Soil Runaways, Ship Seizures and the Politics of Diplomatic Non-Recognition in the Early Nineteenth Century

Johnhenry Gonzalez has written an article with engaging stories and on a topic that deserves even more attention.

I finally got to read Johnhenry Gonzalez’s article published in the latest issue of Abolition & Slavery 36:1 (2015): 124-135.  It deals with an understudied topic, but one that is important to me.  If this is an indication of a trend, I am glad for the budding interest in post-revolutionary Haiti (1820s) and the Atlantic World.

Runaways escaping by boat

Runaways escaping by boat

It is only at the end of the article that the reader notices that Gonzalez had nicely weaved in pirates’ and runaway accounts into a foreign policy study. Gonzalez knows that Prince Mary’s remarkable autobiography fits perfectly when talking about runaways from the Caicos’ islands. So, there she is, explaining readers that a lack of a sugar plantation system does not mean a more benevolent slavery, which only existed in the imagination of a few slavery apologists.  Attention to stories like hers bubbles up more than curiosity. It helps contrast the appalling lives of slaves on the Turks and Caicos islands with the freedom that boat-runaways most had gained in Haiti.

Gonzalez insists that Jean-Pierre Boyer’s prolonged regime (1818-1843) should be considered as part of an epoch of sputtering transition toward emancipation.  How did his rule managed to survive for so long in the midst of the sugar archipelago, encircled by the very same islands that were models of intensified slave labor?  And what about the legendary internal divisions? To explain his case, Gonzalez builds upon Ada Ferrer’s work on early Haitian Free-soil policy but does not stay there.  He soon moves toward a more time-honored position and brings with him an underlying assumption.  For Gonzalez, Haitian leaders (principally Boyer) quietly manipulated the “organic” 1816 Constitution for diplomatic ends (more like a bait):

While Pétion and Boyer’s policies of emancipation, free soil, and land reform grew organically from the aspirations of Haiti’s formerly enslaved citizens, these leaders also tacitly used these policies to threaten and punish the hostile British and North American governments. (132)

Here he reminds me of John Edward Baur’s article “Mulatto Machiavelli, Jean-Pierre Boyer, and The Haiti of His Day.” Baur focused on Boyer and presented him as the ideal Haitian practitioner of realpolitik, with an innate talent to negotiate Haiti’s survival.  Thankfully, Gonzalez’s portrayal of Boyer is more nuanced.  He showed Boyer as part of his time and in a mix with the masses of people who are not short in historical agency. But generally speaking, Baur would have agreed with Gonzalez’s main arguments.  It is at the moments when Gonzalez differed strikingly from Baur that the reader notices the author’s major contributions to historiography.

For example, Gonzalez highlighted a point that should have been obvious but is often ignored, one that Baur also assumed: Boyer’s Free Soil policy resulted in a better survival strategy than that of Jean Jaques Dessalines or Henri Christophe’s.  However, differently from Baur, Gonzalez’s understands that Haiti behaved defiantly against the US and British authorities (through consuls and traders) simply because it could do so at this time in history.  No imperial power was dominant enough in the Caribbean to submit Haiti into raw obedience– a situation clearly different after 1915 with the US invasion.  In other words, Gonzalez places Haiti solidly within a more nuanced milieu.  Still, Baur would have supported Gonzalez when explaining Pétion and Boyer’s motivations for their foreign policy of defiance: it was a retaliation against the British and US non-recognition policy.

Haitian officials sign a treaty with France. Date 1825.

Haitian officials sign a treaty with France. Date 1825.

One of the most interesting points in Gonzalez’s article is where he offers a distinct angle for considering the 1825 Indemnity Treaty. Far from justifying getting the country in (eternal) debt, he shows Boyer in a contrasting light. On the one hand, his Free-Soil policy makes him look like a successful postcolonial leader. On the other, however, Boyer looks like a fool when he gave in to French demands. On this point, Gonzalez departs from Baur, who had seen Boyer in 1825 as a prisoner of circumstances.  Boyer had alternatives.

Though many scholars and non-scholars have returned to this moment (see Joan Dayan, page 161 and Frédérique Beauvois). and have wondered about Boyer’s thoughts, most have deemed it as a mistake. Gonzalez makes Boyer’s submission seems even more absurd.

In this light, the French indemnity of 1825 appears especially tragic not simply because it siphoned away Haitian wealth and helped it along the path towards economic ruin, but also because Boyer’s government may have had sufficient military power, domestic political support, and neutral or clandestine trading partners to have continued defying France and Britain well beyond 1825.

Regardless of how inconsistent Boyer’s regime appeared, the most obvious beneficiaries of the Haitian revolutionary legacy were the few runaways from nearby islands, particularly those from the Turks and Caicos.

As with every good piece of scholarship, this article leaves many unanswered questions, which are the seeding grounds for future research.  How much can we speculate about Boyer’s authority and actual power? What role did the people play in shaping the law and foreign policy? How did enslaved families learned about the news in Haiti? Fortunately, recent research is helping find and better understand the runaways’ flights.

Duke University Debuts Website Documenting SNCC & the Voting Rights Struggle

DennisRHidalgo:

Such a cool site!

Originally posted on GOOD BLACK NEWS:

Vq1ywrurDuke University in Durham, North Carolina, has just debuted a new website documenting the struggle of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to secure voting rights for African Americans. The site, entitled “One Person, One Vote: The Legacy of the SNCC and the Fight for Voting Rights,” went live one week before the 50th anniversary of the “Bloody Sunday” voting rights march in Selma, Alabama on March 7, 1965.

Students and faculty at Duke University worked with veterans of SNCC and other civil rights leaders to develop the website. The site includes a timeline, profiles of the key figures in the struggle to secure voting rights, and stories relating to the struggle.

5193ppoofzL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Wesley Hogan, the director of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University and the author of Many Minds, One Heart: SNCC’s Dream for a New America (University of North Carolina Press, 2007), stated that “this is…

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The Birth of a Nation

Originally posted on Abagond:

Birth_of_a_Nation_theatrical_poster“The Birth of a Nation” (1915) is a Hollywood film based on the bestselling book, “The Clansman: An Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan” (1905) by Thomas Dixon, Jr. It was the most successful silent film ever. It revolutionized film-making and led to the rebirth of the Klan.

Lilian Gish stars as a Pure White Woman saved by the Klan from a large mulatto who lusts after her.

D.W. Griffith directs as a film-making genius who has no idea that he is a racist.

The film burst upon a world of nickelodeons where for five cents you could watch short films, generally 10 to 15 minutes long, which were little more than stage plays acted in front of unmoving cameras.

“The Birth of a Nation” was over three hours long and cost an unheard of $2.00 to see.

It had:

  • A new style of filming: cross-cuts, close-ups, establishing shots…

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The Idea of the Black Intellectual

Originally posted on El Imperio de Calibán:

The Idea of the Black Intellectual

mums312-b010-i006-001When I first began to teach a class titled Black Intellectual Thought, I wanted to broaden the classic definition of a black intellectual for undergraduates who tended to think of black intellectuals as a small stratum of African Americans who were literate and who had access to mechanisms for publication. I first used William M. Banks’ vivid and engaging text, Black Intellectuals: Race and Responsibility in American Life.1 Black Intellectuals adeptly narrates a history of important black thinkers within changing contexts of slavery, race, and modernization, but it also emphasizes a narrow understanding of black intellectualism. I found myself sometimes working against this text to get students to think about the patterns, changes and complexities of black thought expressed in different contexts by people that did not fit a definition…

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For Shame! Part 3: A Shameful (Erotic?) Theology?

Originally posted on WIT:

“Shame need not crouch, in such an Earth as Ours; Shame—stand erect—the Universe is yours!”  – Emily Dickinson, #1304, 1874

“It would not be an overstatement to say that Christianity literally had its birth on the altar of shame.” – Jill L. McNish, Transforming Shame: A Pastoral Response

“… shame does not merely guard the boundary between the public and the private, the political and the personal, the inter- and intrasubjective, but also constantly traverses those boundaries—even very nearly dissolves them. This traversal—this near-dissolution—binds shame tightly to the erotic. If the embrace of the stigma of identity represents a conversion that takes place within shame, so too dos the plunge into the abjection of flesh-and-soul that undoes identity, giving rise to both wild joy and abysmal humility—courting the arrival of grace. This stigma itself turns out to be both the inscription and the erasure of identity, at once the fact…

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The Secret Anglo-American Empire of Intelligence

DennisRHidalgo:

I wonder how are they tracking my web surfing.

Originally posted on Imperial & Global Forum:

nsa

Robert Whitaker
Tarrant County College

There is a telling moment near the beginning of Citizenfour, the Oscar-winning documentary film featuring the initial interviews between NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and reporters. Snowden sits on the edge of a hotel bed describing a collection of documents to journalists Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill. The documents, listed in a computer file directory, include material taken as part of the National Security Agency’s [NSA] global surveillance program. As Snowden talks, Greenwald and MacAskill lean forward to view the files, salivating over the potential headlines from the documents, particularly those concerning German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Snowden, however, remains distant from the excitement, offering the documents to Greenwald and MacAskill without editorializing and without pointing them toward specific stories. For Greenwald and MacAskill, it seems, the importance of Snowden’s revelations lie in the contents of the documents; for Snowden, the importance of the revelations remain…

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The Dred Scott Case Said Blacks Had No Rights the “White Man Was Bound to Respect.” But in the West Things Turned Out Differently. –

DennisRHidalgo:

We need more works like this that highlight the agency of the racialized.

Originally posted on El Imperio de Calibán:

The Dred Scott Case Said Blacks Had No Rights the “White Man Was Bound to Respect.” But in the West Things Turned Out Differently

HNN   March 8, 2015

On March 6, 1857, in the infamous Dred Scott decision, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that African Americans “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” St. Louisans Dred, Harriet, Eliza and Lizzie Scott would stay slaves.

And yet, by March 1865, Congress had passed the 13th Amendment, forever banning slavery, as Union armies marched through the Confederacy. Surprisingly, the shape of the freedom that followed emerged more in the Civil War West than from the battlefields of the South.

Most people ignore the West during the Civil War. Yet the conflict engulfed Missouri, Kansas and Indian Territory (today’s Oklahoma); it spilled over the borders into British Columbia and Mexico. The Confederacy had high hopes…

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The Man Who Stole Puerto Rico

DennisRHidalgo:

I just love the prose in which this article is written, but most of all, I love Nelson A. Denis’ scholarly work. The original article has pictures: http://www.latinorebels.com/2015/03/03/the-man-who-stole-puerto-rico/

Originally posted on Repeating Islands:

A000116“When we think of robber barons, the usual suspects include John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan and Cornelius Vanderbilt. But one robber baron has gone underappreciated: the man who stole Puerto Rico.” So writes Nelson A. Denis, who explores the role of Charles Herbert Allen in Puerto Rico in the early twentieth century. He says: “By the time Allen left Puerto Rico, the entire island was a crime scene.” [Many thanks to Michael O’Neal for bringing this item to our attention.]

His name is Charles Herbert Allen, the first U.S. civilian governor of Puerto Rico. He served only 17 months, but that was all he needed to perform one of the most spectacular crimes of the 20th century. By the time Allen left Puerto Rico, the entire island was a crime scene.

Allen hailed from Lowell, Massachusetts—famous for child labor and textile mill sweatshops. Though he never served in the armed services, he…

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Centuries-old DNA helps identify origins of slave skeletons found in Caribbean

DennisRHidalgo:

Innovations in the DNA technologies are opening the Caribbean past in ways we never imagined.

Originally posted on Repeating Islands:

150309155523-large

Researchers at the Stanford University Medical Center have extracted and sequenced tiny bits of DNA remaining in the teeth of 300-year-old skeletons in the Caribbean. From this data, they were able to determine where in Africa the individuals likely lived before they were captured and enslaved. Here are excerpts:

More than 300 years ago, three African-born slaves died on the Caribbean island of Saint Martin. No written records memorialized their fate, and their names and precise ethnic background remained a mystery. For centuries, their skeletons were subjected to the hot, wet weather of the tropical island until they were unearthed in 2010 during a construction project in the Zoutsteeg area of the capital city of Philipsburg.

Now researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and the University of Copenhagen have extracted and sequenced tiny bits of DNA remaining in the skeletons’ teeth. From this data, they were able to…

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Tourism and Time Zones: Turks and Caicos Changes Zone for Later Sunsets

DennisRHidalgo:

It is fascinating how much are the islands of the Caribbean willing to bend for the tourist industry: even changing their time zone.

Originally posted on Repeating Islands:

Untitled 

Suzy Strutner says that “Some people will do anything for the perfect beach vacation.” I had no idea that one could do this, but the islands of Turks and Caicos swapped time zones on Sunday to give tourists more daylight time to swim, shop, and explore the Caribbean paradise.

Previously, Turks and Caicos followed Eastern Standard Time. The islands switched to Atlantic Standard Time, which they’ll share year-round with eastern Caribbean islands and sections of Canada. In Turks and Caicos, the sun used to set around 5 p.m. in winter. Now, daytime will extend until almost 7 p.m., at least for the spring season.

This isn’t the first vacation spot to jump time zones in favor of tourism. Last month, Mexico’s state of Quintana Roo — home to the beaches of Cancun and Tulum — switched to give tourists more time on beaches and to better match the East Coast, its…

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